A few days ago I broke up a serious dog fight between two dogs. I was out in the backyard with Pandora (deaf Boxer), Eeyore (deaf American Staffordshire Terrier) and Gus (hearing Basset Hound mix). These dogs have been living together in my house for several weeks now with no problems and we’d been out there for awhile when suddenly a fight started between Gus and Eeyore.
Gus may be vertically challenged, but he refuses to let that slow him down. He’s one of the most stubborn dogs I know, and when he decided Eeyore got too much into his space, he attacked him. Eeyore decided not to back down, and suddenly a full-blown fight was in progress. Although I was standing just a few feet away, I was unable to distract the dogs or break up the fight immediately. I tossed the contents of the outside water bowl on the dogs with no effect, and then turned the hose on them full force which also had no effect. I then grabbed Eeyore by his back legs and picked him up off of the ground. At that point he had a hold of Gus and wasn’t letting go. Most dog breeds will snap erratically at their opponent, biting and releasing repeatedly. But dogs of the terrier breed, including pit bulls, will usually bite and hold. So at this point I’m standing there holding Eeyore upside down completely off the ground and trying to drag him away while he continues holding onto Gus and shaking his head. I was terrified, but Gus apparently wasn’t, because for a second Eeyore let go, and instead of running away, Gus came right back at him and renewed the fight. Did I mention he’s stubborn? This time Eeyore got a good grip on Gus’ front leg and wouldn’t let go. I ran into the house and grabbed a break stick – an emergency tool that I had purchased more than a year ago but never before had to use. I ran back to Eeyore and put the break stick into his mouth and twisted. Instantly Eeyore was biting the break stick and Gus was free. This time Gus got smart and ran into the house as fast as his little legs could carry him. I then held onto Eeyore’s collar and walked him to the door so I could go inside while ensuring that Eeyore could not follow me into the house. Eeyore walked calmly beside me as if nothing was going on, while I was in a panic over what had just happened.
I rushed Gus to the emergency vet clinic, and he had to get stitches in his front leg and chest. The vet tech asked what happened and I said he was in a fight with a pit bull, and she muttered “I’m getting really tired of those dogs.” And I felt horrible that I just contributed to the bad image that pit bulls have, when I know they are wonderful dogs and I know that Gus is the one that started the fight, not Eeyore. So I almost didn’t write this blog post, because the last thing these poor dogs need is more bad press. But there is so much misinformation about pit bulls out there, that I can only hope by sharing my experience I will help someone else who may someday be in the same situation. The truth is, pit bulls are not just like other dogs, at least not when it comes to dog fights. It’s not all in how they’re raised, and it’s also not all in their genes and whether they came from fighting lines. It’s not even how they’re trained or managed 100% of the time. Eeyore is a smart dog who has learned basic obedience commands and loves human attention. He has been around many other dogs and even spent a week at a doggy day care facility without any issues. But any dog of any breed can get in a dog fight, and it’s important that multi-dog households are aware of that. Responsible owners should take measures to prevent such fights, but should also be prepared for the worst.
There is a lot of good information out there on how to break up a dog fight. I would suggest reading it now because if a fight ever happens you’re not going to have time to go read it then. Most importantly, be cautious when trying to break up a fight. Don’t get bit in the process. Don’t grab a dog’s collar or place a leg or arm in between two dogs who are fighting. If you have a pit bull type of dog, buy a break stick, or make your own. Because as scary as it is to witness a dog fight, it’s even more scary to not be able to break them up. Break sticks should not be used on breeds of dogs other than pit bulls, but I can now attest to the fact that it worked great on a pit-bull type dog who was biting and would not let go. I hope I never need to use one again, but if I ever do find myself in a similar situation I will panic a little bit less and feel a lot more prepared to deal with the situation.